One hundred miles per week ain’t too shabby, I suppose. Or an easily calculable average of four hundred per month is what it comes out to be, given that here at the end of ten months of the year I’ve now cycled just over four thousand miles. I pause for the moment but by no means stop. With two more months to go in 2012, I could just… well, quite unlikely. I was going to suggest surpassing my all-time annual record, but this would require another 22-hundred miles in the saddle before year’s end. And who in the world has time for that?
Monthly Archives: October 2012
And The City Roars Once More!
They did it again, with a little extra nail biting in the final act. The parade of two years ago will be once more. The San Francisco Giants are the 2012 World Series champions!
For the 100th — and First — Time
Beginning on the island of Corsica, ending at nighttime, and remaining– for the first time in a decade– entirely within the country for which the event is named, are just a few distinguishing new features of next year’s exciting journey. The route for the 100th Tour de France has hereby been unveiled!
The Only Difference…
While Lance Armstrong has now been stripped of his Tour de France victories, there will be no replacement winners for those seven years. The matter has been summed up clearly via the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency:
“USADA also thinks the Tour titles should not be given to other riders who finished on the podium, such was the level of doping during Armstrong’s era. The agency said 20 of the 21 riders on the podium in the Tour from 1999 through 2005 have been ‘directly tied to likely doping through admissions, sanctions, public investigations’ or other means. It added that of the 45 riders on the podium between 1996 and 2010, 36 were by cyclists ‘similarly tainted by doping.'” (AP/FoxNews.com)
An article out of Australia continues to voice my own thought process on this matter:
“Drug use… has been a significant part of the sport from its earliest days. A long list of some of the biggest stars and heroes of cycling have tested positive or admitted to drug use over the years. Drugs are as much a part of the Tour de France history as the bicycles themselves.” (BrisbaneTimes.com.au)
Not that I’m in any way condoning the use of performance-enhancing substances and methods in cycling, or in any sport for that matter. However, I’m reminded of a non-unique item of cycling history I recently read, of the very first Tour de France competitors in 1903 washing down snorts of cocaine with wine before hitting the road. This of course was just the beginning of such related actions for decades to come.
Lance is clearly not unusual in terms of doping. The only difference between him and so many of his brethren is that he managed to win the race a more-than-unusual seven times. Had he finished second, third or even further down the list in those years, I ask: Would this be happening now, after all this time?
There is no winner now for those tours, because to find one free of doping would be a daunting if not impossible endeavor. I’m not exactly thrilled to be part of a sport with such a blemished reputation, and cycling should continue all present policies to rid itself of such actions while ushering in a cleaner and fairer era of competition. The fact of the matter is, however, that cycling was far from rid of doping during Lance’s reign. Shall we comb through the past 100 years and strip some more titles, or could we let history be exactly that?
The only difference is: He’s cycling’s biggest name, or was. He’s the man, or was. He’s Lance, and still is. While I’m disappointed in that of which he stands accused, I’m sorry for what’s now happened to him, in the harsh and sweeping manner it has. Lance Armstrong might no longer hold his place in cycling, but much to the disagreement of the International Cycling Union, he certainly does not deserve to be forgotten.
History cannot be rewritten. The only difference is: That was then, and this is now.
Up In Smoke, One Could Hope.
It goes too far. Such regulation of behavior inside one’s home is, to say the least, discomforting. Radio personality Ronn Owens stated it clearly, and I absolutely concur. So much do I agree with him in fact, that I called in to his show and expressed my support for his logical and refreshing viewpoint.
I’m not a cigarette smoker. There’s my occasional cigar, outdoors of course, but this is beside the point. Like Ronn said of himself, I do not enjoy cigarette smoke around me, and I’m glad to be rid of smokers in restaurants and other enclosed public places. Thankfully we no longer have smoke on an airplane, for example. Still, in this increasingly hostile climate of ever-further-reaching restrictions on where smokers can legally light up, the city of San Rafael is plainly overstepping.
Non-smokers certainly have the right to be free of what’s considered so objectionable and hazardous to our health. The dangers of second-hand smoke are clearly valid. This is why numerous other understandable and tolerable smoking restrictions have already been passed, much to the benefit of our clean air, happy lungs and of course, fine wools. Still, there’s a line, and San Rafael has crossed it.
Various multi-unit housing complexes throughout the state and country already designate smoking and non-smoking units. Landlords and tenants agree to smoking– or not as the case may be– in their lease terms. Violations of such designations and terms should always be enforced. At the same time, there should be allowances for those who choose to smoke, especially on and/or inside own property, even with shared walls, to do so. Instances of disapproving neighbors are understandable and should be handled on a private, individual basis, with full advance disclosure of what buildings and units are and are not permissible smoking spaces. As such, San Rafael’s new ordinance strikes me as not only unnecessary, but downright invasive and offensive.
Not that this Marin County community’s tyrannical stance is unusual or unheard of elsewhere; slightly lesser yet still controversial laws exist in such California cities as Calabasas and Burbank. However, by applying to 100% of shared-wall residences indoors, for owners and renters alike, San Rafael’s law is indeed the toughest.
Then comes the issue of enforcement. Just what kind of community mindset is San Rafael creating? Do smoker residents simply ignore the law and do what they must to avoid being “caught”? Do neighborhoods turn into a collection of spies and tattle-tales who call the authorities every time they see or smell a cigarette? Does the city really want to waste its time and energy responding to such complaints? I have a feeling the reported 7.5% of San Rafael smokers will continue to smoke however they can get away with it, as well they should. As such, the new ordinance could eventually be considered a meaningless technicality.
Again, no smoking inside a restaurant or bar: A good thing. No smoking inside one’s own home: An affront to personal space, liberty and privacy. I’m with you, Ronn. While I welcome smoke-free spaces, I find the new reality in San Rafael very disturbing. And then there’s the hope of this setting a precedent? I’d rather see this new law, along with any copy cats to come, go up in smoke.
Part II: And It Goes On.
My first question came to mind before the film began to roll. Why, I asked, weren’t at least some if not all the actors from the first installment brought back to their roles for round two? The answer, or a portion of it, seems to have already been presented. Still, the business behind the making of a film certainly does not make the big screen’s overall continuity– or clearly lack thereof– any easier to swallow.
As always, my watching of the movie and the subsequent composing of my thoughts on it came before I endeavored to read any reviews. Now that the time has come to explore what others have to say, I myself have to say I’ve reached some points of agreement with the critics on Atlas Shrugged Part II.
It took me a while to get past the new cast, as I spent a good half of the movie comparing the current actors to those who played the same roles in Part I. My conclusion, alongside one unflattering review I’ve now read: Some were stronger this time around, most notably in my opinion Hank Rearden. Others plainly were not, foremost Hank’s wife Lillian, to borrow the words, “beamed in from a third-rate soap opera.” Francisco: Better. James: A draw. Dagny: Worse, amid more words written for me, even within a positive preview: “She certainly acts well… but she lacks the glamor and beauty of her predecessor in the role.” And it goes on.
Atlas Shrugged Part I, released 18 months ago, took place in 2016 and 2017, as indicated with date stamps throughout. Why then, I next asked myself, is no year attached to the days and months of Part II? For continuity’s sake, why not stay on the same stated time path? Continuity– again– does not carry Part I into Part II, disappointingly enough, drastic crew changes and production enhancements notwithstanding.
The storyline is reasonably clear; I followed the plot even more closely this time, if not for production value because I now feel I have an even deeper understanding of Ayn Rand’s complex and multi-layered story than I had upon seeing Part I. Still, not all moments are easily believable; in fact many remain a downright overstretch of the imagination. While a few intense and mind-triggering scenes boost the overall flow, too much of the acting comes off as shallow, rushed and unconvincing. The energy and cadence of the film remain high, as various punch lines either affirm or rattle our personal philosophies. And of course there’s Hank, powerful to a far yet unfortunate point. And it goes on.
Too many questions might force you to simply suspend belief in order to enjoy the story while processing its content. Why is most of the population of our country inexplicably absent? In this not-far-off doomsday fantasy-tempt-reality, is the majority simply at home and out of sight? How could the executive and legislative branches of government actually work together enough to pass such drastic and objectionable new laws? Have all the brilliant minds really disappeared, leaving but one to try to crack the code of what could be “the engine of the world?” Perhaps this is not the fault of any director, but rather that of the author herself. And it goes on.
For the viewpoints that surely spark controversy and incite argument, and despite the range of appreciation, shall we say, for the philosophy of Ayn Rand, this movie clearly invites you to think for yourself, amid alternating doses of reality and fantasy. Altogether, Atlas Shrugged Part II is securely worth the watch, even if– as proclaimed by the director himself– not for everyone. Read some more reviews first if you feel you must; there are plenty out there. Just take the good with the bad as I have, as you reach your own points of agreement and disagreement, ideally without prejudice, but with– dare I say it– a shrug or two of your own.
And it goes on. We’ve just begun to finally see who he is. Part III is yet to come.
Once in a Lifetime
After my comment last April that we might not see a certain sight again, of course I now stand corrected in the wake of the space shuttle Endeavour’s ceremonious airborne arrival in California last month.
Now I can say with far greater certainty that the captivating images coming to us from Los Angeles this weekend will never come again, unless of course Endeavour decides one day to take up residence in another city or state. For the time being, as the spacecraft makes its way through the streets of L.A. ever so slowly– even more slowly than planned— to its retirement home at the California Science Center, the photos continue to impress. At the end of the day, this “once in a lifetime” event deserves to be remembered.
Your Best Choice?
As for that busier-than-usual weekend in San Francisco, it’s certainly here, while my car is certainly staying put until Monday. In a change from my usual Saturday cycling routine, I didn’t dare cross the Golden Gate Bridge amidst the horrific thought of one million tourists in town. Instead, my Strava app recorded a shortened yet decent 35 miles in the saddle without leaving the city. Leaving, however, may be your best choice of them all!
“It is an extreme experience – cutting edge wing-sailed catamarans flying at speeds over 30 miles per hour, and a mix of fleet and match racing to test the abilities of the best sailing teams in the world.” (RedBull.com)
I’m vividly and happily reminded of my days– on a far smaller scale– on the waters of Lake Maxinkuckee at Culver Summer Naval School. Much of the sailing terminology and technique I learned more than two decades ago quickly returned to me here in 2012, much to my enjoyment and satisfaction.
This is to say, the America’s Cup World Series has quickly returned to San Francisco Bay this week for round two, following the first go-around in August. “The best sailors” and “the fastest boats” are captivating onlookers from Marina Green this week– including myself obviously.
Despite all this excitement on the water however, it’s not the only game in town. America’s Cup remains just one of many events in a very busy week for San Francisco!